Nationals Arm Race

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MLB Pipeline Mid-season Prospect Update

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It’s just a matter of time before James Wood is slugging in the majors . Photo via Baseball America

Hot on the heels of Baseball America doing the same, MLB Pipeline boys re-did their top 100 and slightly changed their top 30 for the Nats. Here’s a quick post talking about their changes and why.

Here’s the new MLBPipeline top 100 (with Wood now ranked #5 overall) and here’s a link to the current state of the Nats top 30. I won’t repeat the top 30 here in table format, but i’ll go over what’s changed.

  • Flipped Wood and Crews at the top. No surprise here, just recognition that Wood has basically “solved” AAA so far while Crews continues to struggle in AA. Crew’s numbers have improved so far in May (.269/.375/.615), so that’s good.
  • For those clamoring for Wood to get promoted … who do you sit? That’s the real problem with the makeup of the MLB roster right now. Winker has cooled a bit but still has a 117 OPS+ playing in LF, and you need him to retain value in trade. Young’s been great in CF and it’d make no sense to sit him. I don’t think you can cut bait on Rosario yet, and Robles is now back and needs playing time too. Meneses is 1B/DH and may have already been let go if Gallo wasn’t hurt. So, who sits? Robles? do you cut Meneses and DH Wood full time? Well that makes no sense either. Honestly, we need an injury or a trade.
  • Morales and Cavalli swap spots at 4/5. I guess they’re hedging on how long it’s taken Cavalli to come back. Remember, Cavalli was routinely in the top 50-60 of all of the minors at the beginning of 2023 (including #58 in MLBPipeline’s rankings pre TJ).
  • MLB Pipeline has now “graduated” both Jacob Young and Nasim Nunez, ranked 18th and 19th respectively earlier this year. Young was graduated out on ABs in April, while Nunez is now graduated by virtue of Service Time thanks to being on the big league roster more than 45 days.
  • The two graduations left two spots open at #29 and #30; those have been filled with Armando Cruz and Andry Lara. These two are more than reasonable additions at this juncture. The highest ranked guys I have not on their list are Quintana (who’s hitting .192 this year so far) and Andrew Alvarez (who doesn’t scream “prospect” based on his stuff).
  • They did not modify Lipscomb or Parker’s rankings despite MLB success, indicating this was really just a quick peek at the top of each team’s list to make slight adjustments.

We still wait for Fangraphs Nats top XXX for 2024, which came out in June last year. Eric Longenhagen always has a unique take on prospects and we’ll give that the full writeup when it comes out. He’s already releasting teams so perhaps we’re going to be last alphabetically.

Written by Todd Boss

May 13th, 2024 at 11:59 am

Posted in Prospects

Baseball America May 2024 Updated top 30

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Reviewing off-season ranks from pundits last winter was a ton of fun, culminating in my publishing my own ranks once all the major pundits had reported.

We’re now a month into the season, and the first of a few expected “mid season updates” have published. These are useful re-ranks that take into account promotions, graduations, injuries, and the like. So, here’s a reaction to the 5/6/24 Update to the Baseball America Rankings for the Nats.

Here’s the May 2024 rankings.

BA May2024 rankLast NameFirst NamePosition
1WoodJamesOF (Corner)
2CrewsDylanOF (CF)
3HouseBradySS/3B
4CavalliCadeRHP (Starter)
5MoralesYohandy3B
6RutledgeJacksonRHP (Starter)
7Hassell IIIRobertOF (CF)
8VaqueroCristianOF (CF)
9LipscombTrey3B
10ParkerMitchellLHP (Starter)
11SusanaJarlinRHP (Starter)
12GreenElijahOF (CF)
13LileDaylenOF (CF)
14HurtadoVictorOF
15BennettJakeLHP (Starter)
16SykoraTravisRHP (Starter)
17HerzDJLHP (Starter)
18NunezNasimSS
19PinckneyAndrewOF (Corner)
20BrzykcyZachRHP (Reliever)
21MillasDrewC
22HenryColeRHP (Starter)
23FelizAngel3B/SS
24MadeKevinSS
25De La RosaJeremyOF (Corner)
26CruzArmandoSS
27BakerDarren2B
28WhiteT.J.OF (Corner)
29AlvarezAndrewLHP (Starter)
30BrownMarcusSS/2B

In this post, i’ll highlight just those changes in these rankings from their Jan 2024 system rankings, reviewed here (all stats quoted were as of 5/8/24 and may be slightly different when you read this).

  • At the top, BA officially does what many others have been threatening to; switch Crews and Wood at the top of the ranking. Wood had a monster spring and is at AAA, while Crews has scuffled out of the gate to continue his poor AA career numbers (he hit .208 there for a month last year and is hitting .235 there so far this season). Meanwhile, Wood is destroying AAA pitching so far in 2024; current slash line .339/.444/.529. I think it’s more than safe to say that the current depth chart of outfielders on the 40-man roster (roughly: Winker, Thomas, Young, Robles, Rosario, Call, and Garrett) may be ready for a shake up the next time they have an injury. I’m not sure how much longer the team will stand for Rosario to hit .125 when they have a top-5 prospect in AAA with nothing more to prove.
  • Lipscomb bumped up from #16 in January to #9 today, and he may not be eligible for this list much longer. He’s already got 87 ABs this season and doesn’t seem to be going anywhere as a useful backup infielder. Meanwhile, Rule5 draftee Nasim Nunez has three (3!) total ABs this season, and if the team stays in Wild Card contention much longer I see his usefulness being exhausted pretty soon.
  • Parker bumped up from #29 to #10. Well of course he’s been bumped up. Show up in the majors as a mid-20s prospect on every sheet, shut down the Dodgers, shut down the Astros? Come on. Nobody saw this coming. I liked Parker a lot after seeing him in person last year and I could only push him into my mid 20s. Hopefully its not a complete mirage and he continues along an bests what most pundits saw initially; 4th/5th starter ceiling.
  • Susana jumps ahead of Green in the rankings. Not sure what Susana has done to merit jumping ahead of anyone, let alone being this high. So far in 2024: 5 starts, 16 innings, and a 5.51 ERA. Interestingly, his K/9 is way up and his BB/9 is way down … but they can’t let him throw more than 3 innings a stint? Meanwhile, Green continues to not hit in the low-A, with a .170 BA and 52 (!!) Ks in 25 games so far this year. I mean … unless the franchise has told him to swing out of his ass every time he gets up, this is just not good.
  • Nunez remains 18th on the list, with no movement up or down relative to where he was in January. Really?
  • Jacob Young, ranked 18th in January, has officially graduated from rookie eligibility/prospect status by hitting his 150th PA in April. Like Parker/Lipscomb he never really was a heralded prospect but is succeeding so far in the majors.
  • The rest of the list from 19 to 29 is identical from January.
  • To add in the new 30th prospect to replace Young, BA has added … Marcus Brown. Which is weird b/c they had a list of 8-10 “honorable mentions” after posting their Jan 2024 list, and Brown wasn’t on it. I guess they released this before seeing what Marcus did in High-A when he got promoted earlier this year (.129/.206/.145). In January their “31st”prospect was Andry Lara, who has looked awesome so far in 2024, so that doesn’t make much sense.

So, some movement for some players, but not a full overhaul based on the SSS of 2024.

Written by Todd Boss

May 10th, 2024 at 9:51 am

Posted in Prospects

Your 2024 AAA Rotation Revealed Early?

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Thaddeus Ward should get stretched out in Rochester this year. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

On March 11th, all on the same day, the Nats optioned the following arms to AAA:

  • Cole Henry
  • Mitchell Parker
  • DJ Herz
  • Thaddeus Ward
  • Joan Adon

If this was a Jeopardy answer, the question would be, “What is, the Rochester 2024 opening day rotation for $100, Alex?”

(Note: Adon’s option confirmed his previously unknown “4th option,” given for reasons unknown. Maybe its because he was so young when added. He doesn’t seem to have missed enough time in any season since he got added in Nob 2020 to qualify per the previously understood rules. Beats me. It works to our favor absolutely, in that we get one more season to see if he can turn into something useful).

Now, odds are that at least one or two more starters will be joining the party in AAA, including one Jackson Rutledge, which would push one of these guys out, presuming Rochester is doing a 5-man rotation. The only other 40-man starters still on the active spring training MLB roster (Strasburg and Cavalli) both should be getting sent to the 60-day DL soon.

Plus, we still have two veteran NRI MLFAs in camp in Spencer Watkins and Zach Davies who could stick around, but neither of these guys are going to supplant the progress of the above five arms. My guess would be that the team retains one of Watkins or Davies, pushes Ward and Henry to AA as starters, then your AAA rotation is Parker, Herz, Adon, Rutledge and Watkins/Davies.

Of course, this also overloads AA, who (according to big board right now) already has 4 starters in Luckham, Saenz, Alvarez, and Cuevas. So we’ll see.

More to the point, for the first time in a while the AAA rotation looks like it’s mostly home-grown, actual prospects instead of being filled with 30-something MLFAs. Here’s a quick look going backwards a few years at the opening day AAA rotations:

  • 2023: Adon, Irvin, Espino, Abbott, Peralta; That’s 2 prospects, two MLFAs/Waiver claims, and one org guy
  • 2022: Tetreault, Sanchez, Cavalli, Reyes, JRodriguez. That’s one prospect, one rehab guy, and three org guys.
  • 2021: Nolin, Fuentes, Braymer, JRodriguez, Armenteros: that’s three org guys and two MLFAs.
  • 2020: Covid
  • 2019: McGowin, Copeland, Voth, Espino, Dragmire: that’s one prospect, one org guy, and three MLFAs.
  • 2018: Voth, Milone*, Fedde, EJackson, Vargas: that’s 3 prospects and two MLFAs.
  • 2017: JRoss, Turner, THill, Voth, Cole: finally back to a time when we had mostly prospects: this is 4 prospects and one MLFA in Turner.

We’ll see what 2024 starts with but it could be 4 prospects and a MLFA, or possibly even 5 prospects. And with the planned rise of AA’s stars to AAA this year, we’re not dependent on a gazillion retreads to fill the field either.

Written by Todd Boss

March 15th, 2024 at 11:43 am

Nats 2024 Top 60 Prospect List from Nationals Arm Race

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This is your pundit for today.

So, after a dozen posts reviewing other people’s Nats prospect lists, here’s me putting my money where my mouth is. For the first time ever, I offer to you my list of our top prospects.

I’m not just stopping at 10 (that’s easy), or even 30. I was going to publish 50, but found I had 10 “honorable mentions” so i went ahead and ranked them too. Here’s my top 60.

60 prospects is, well, its a lot. Teams can only have 165 total domestic (non DSL) players even rostered, so ranking 60 deep is really a large percentage of our entire minor league system. It includes nearly every starting position player in AA, High-A and Low-A and most of our starting pitchers at these levels.

My methodology: with the benefit of seeing how all the other scouting pundits have ranked these players, I tweaked my rankings per player up or down all spring. If I initially was way off on a guy, I’d use his scouting reports from MLB pipeline or Baseball America to get a fresh opinion. I use the Nats Big Board, which now has direct links to the milb.com stats page for every single player in our system to go eyeball stat lines and progression.

My approach to ranking prospects: I’m bearish on DSL players in general at this point; we’ve seen millions of dollars be spent on 16yr olds who went nowhere. I’m not impressed by guys who are already relievers in High-A. I’m skeptical on young arms until they actually do something and generally rank them lower. I probably give more credit than may be due to guys who are in AA or AAA but who don’t light up the stat line. I do have some favorites who I over-rate, like everyone. I try to be honest about that.

I have not seen all of these players in person. In fact, I have not seen most of them. I’m not a professional scout. I’m just a fan of the Nats and want to see these guys matriculate so we can start to win again. So, here goes.

Nationals Arm Race/Todd Boss top 60 Nats prospects for 2024:

NAR RankLast NameFirst NamePosition
1CrewsDylanOF (CF)
2WoodJamesOF (Corner)
3HouseBradySS/3B
4CavalliCadeRHP (Starter)
5MoralesYohandy3B
6Hassell IIIRobertOF (CF)
7LileDaylenOF (CF)
8GreenElijahOF (CF)
9VaqueroCristianOF (CF)
10HerzDJLHP (Starter)
11BennettJakeLHP (Starter)
12RutledgeJacksonRHP (Starter)
13YoungJacobOF (CF)
14SusanaJarlinRHP (Starter)
15SykoraTravisRHP (Starter)
16PinckneyAndrewOF (Corner)
17LipscombTrey3B
18HenryColeRHP (Starter)
19NunezNasimSS
20LaraAndryRHP (Starter)
21MadeKevinSS
22De La RosaJeremyOF (Corner)
23HurtadoVictorOF
24MillasDrewC
25QuintanaRoismarOF (CF)
26ParkerMitchellLHP (Starter)
27BakerDarren2B
28AlvarezAndrewLHP (Starter)
29SaenzDustinLHP (Starter)
30FelizAngel3B/SS
31CruzArmandoSS
32WhiteT.J.OF (Corner)
33PinedaIsraelC
34RamirezAldoRHP (Starter)
35McKenzieJaredOF (CF)
36CuevasMichaelRHP (Starter)
37BrzykcyZachRHP (Reliever)
38InfanteSamuelSS
39AldonisPabloLHP (Starter)
40YoungLukeRHP (Starter)
41SchoffTylerRHP (Reliever)
42BrownMarcusSS/2B
43NunezElijahOF
44ShumanSethRHP (Starter)
45TheophileRodneyRHP (Starter)
46BarleyJordySS
47LuckhamKyleRHP (Starter)
48FrizzellWill1B
49AcevedoAndyOF
50SuggsMattC
51GuaschRichardRHP (Reliever)
52MotaJorgelysSS
53KnowlesLucasLHP (Reliever)
54CroninMattLHP (Reliever)
55AgostiniGabrielLHP (Reliever)
56SotoElianOF/SS
57SolanoEdwinSS
58BatistaCarlosOF
59ThomasJohnathanOF (CF)
60CoxBrennerOF (CF)

Ok. here’s some thoughts going through to walk you through how I ended up with these guys where they are. This is going to be really, really long analysis, as I try to really capture why I put each guy in each spot. So, strap in.

  • Same top 4 as everyone else. Yes, I think Crews > Langford 🙂
  • I’ve got Morales at #5. Is it good to have two top-end 3B prospects? Both he and House are basically the same size (6’4″ and between 210-225). Both are big enough to slide to 1B and be a pretty good defensive player there. Both he and House have identical defensive grades (60 arm, 50 field), both were oversized SS in high school. Could one or the other be a 6’4″ second baseman? I can’t really find too much evidence of 2B that big, even though we have plenty of taller SS these days (Tulowitzki, Seager, Ripken, and A-Rod were all 6-3 or 6’4). I suppose this is a good problem to have, having two potentially solid 3B racing to get to the majors first. The scouting report does note that the Nats played Morales some at 1B this year, probably tipping their hand as to where he’ll play if House owns the position as we expect he’ll do. There’s also always the DH spot but that’d be a waste for a decent fielder, which he seems to be.
  • From #6 to #9 I have four straight Center Fielders. I have Hassell over Lile, despite the multiple conversations we’ve had about the topic. They’re really close, but I’m skeptical about Lile’s size and his ability to stay in CF. I do believe Hassell will return to form after the hamate bone bugged him for a big chunk of 2023. I’m also now skeptical about Lile’s durability; a TJ and now a potential back issue on his resume will hamper his development. Not his fault, but that’s the breaks.
  • I have Green #8; he started at #5 for me this offseason, but discussion and other shops have convinced me to drop him based on swing and miss concerns. Yes, I know the team is messing with his swing, and I have not lost faith. Maybe he’ll blow up in 2024, jump two levels, and suddenly he’s in the top 50 for the entire league. It isn’t often you see a guy with his combination of tools (60 power and 70 run? That’s like Willie Mays tools)
  • Vaquero? I mean, he’s basically a high school grad last year hitting .197 in Low-A; can’t fault that. But i’m starting to get the opinion that he’s in the top 10 on the basis of his signing bonus ($4.9M) more than his skills or capabilities. MLB pipeline scouting grades: Hit: 45 | Power: 55 | Run: 70 | Arm: 55 | Field: 55 | Overall: 45. Compare that to Green: Hit: 40 | Power: 60 | Run: 70 | Arm: 60 | Field: 60 | Overall: 50.
  • #10 through #12 I’ve got three straight starters. I went Herz, then Bennett, then Rutledge. Herz is a lefty who just dominated AA at the age of 23 and could very well replace Corbin as the token lefty 4th starter in our rotation. You could make an argument that Bennett should be a little lower; he’s missing all of 2024 with TJ and he (at the same age as Herz) couldn’t get guys out in High-A, but his ranking is consistent with his pedigree and other shops, so we’ll go with it. Rutledge i’ve historically been down on, but you can’t argue with his 2023. Can he succeed in the majors? Jury is out; he has four pitches, two of them plus, which usually screams reliever. If he goes to AAA and makes either his change or his curve more useful, then he’s got something to keep MLB hitters at bay as a 5th starter to start. That’s the hope.
  • Young at #13: I’m higher on him than anyone else besides Ghost. Call me crazy, but if you push your way up 3 levels AND you don’t hit .180 in your MLB debut, i’m sold. If we didn’t have Robles on the hook for multiple millions and a hope that he’ll be a trade candidate in July, i’d say go with Young on opening day. But, i’d rather see him start and play in AAA unless there’s an injury or one of our presumed starters (Garrett?) isn’t ready to answer the bell. You tell me: i’m sure Young would rather ride the pine in the majors collecting a salary instead of riding the buses in AAA and playing in 30 degrees all April. Young at #13 is actuals over potential analysis. I think a guy like Young doesn’t get prospect love b/c he projects as a 4th outfielder. Well, at least he’s made it to the show; that’s worth more than the guy who is 25 in High-A who also projects as a 4th outfielder.
  • I’ve got Susana and Sykora 14/15, thinking right now they’re basically the same guy; 18-19yr old with big arm and shiny scouting report. I’m lower on these guys than probably anyone else (McDaniel had Susana #5 of all things), but i’ve just completely worn out any confidence that any prep pitcher ever pans out for us. I hope i’m wrong; i hope these guys rocket up the system and turn into the next coming of Doc Gooden. But their wash out rate is so high its hard to be confident.
  • I probably begrudgingly have Pinckney at #16, and started with him much lower. He was an under-slot senior sign last year who went 102nd overall. Is it possible every team in the league who passed on him three times just missed on a bargain? Something tells me he’ll plateau and wash out before he gets to AAA. Baseball Prospectus had him ranked 9th, by way of comparison. SSS: he has looked relatively overmatched in limited ST at-bats.
  • Lipscomb quietly at #17, despite solid production since the moment he was drafted. He’s an NRI this spring and he was hitting well while playing multiple infield positions. I mean, is this guy our starting 2B of the future? He exuded confidence on the field in AA, clearly a team leader for that squad of top-end prospects.
  • Henry at #18: this is kind of splitting the difference between a complete TOS wash-out and remaining hopeful he returns to form. Remember, this guy used to be ranked as high as our #2 prospect just a couple years ago. He may be a long-shot to turn into the #2 starter projection he used to be, and maybe his worst case is a top-quality back of the bullpen guy (alongside Rutledge?). The big test is past; his velocity is all the way back post TOS, so now its just refinement.
  • Nunez at #19: another one I could argue two different ways. He seems to be 100% glove without much in the way of a bat. Well, we’re about to find out since the rule5 draftee seems set to be one of the two utility infielders on the big club all year. Can he actually hit? Is 19 too high? could be. A brief ST glimpse shows he’s really, really tiny. Like, he looks like your kid brother put on your uniform and hit the field. Good glove though, and has made some solid contact.
  • Andry Lara at #20. Here’s the first place where we see a major deviation between the other shops. Lara has some of the easiest velocity out there. He’s always been young for the level, and even though he was in High-A rotation all year he was just 20. His monthly splits show he finished well … even if he was only pitching 4 innings a start. I’d like to see him pitch deeper into games, turn lineups over a third time maybe, and dominate Wilmington for a couple more months before coming up to AA. But if he’s 21 and holding his own in AA, that’s better than a #20 prospect. MLB didn’t even have him in their top 30, which I think is a mistake. Nats: PLEASE don’t shove him to AA; let him get stretched out and succeed in High-A for a couple months.
  • Kevin Made: no idea what we have with him. Law ranked him #9 (!), Ghost didn’t even have him in his top 30. So there’s huge variation here. But he’s super small (just 5’9″) without any power projection. So he’s going to have to be a high OBP plus defender type to make it, and he’s got work to do.
  • De La Rosa at 22 and Quintana at 25 are kind of the same analysis: they’re both relatively young IFAs with decent but not flashy numbers and are corner OFs. Quintana is lesser regarded and didn’t even make MLB’s top 30, but I’ve got him mid 20s for a reason; he’s got some pop and could be a sneaky riser in the system.
  • Hurtado, our big money 2024 IFA signing, slotted in at #23 (Our other top ranked/big money 2024 IFA signing Feliz comes in at #30). That’s well below anyone else who actually included 2024 signees in their lists, and he’s this low because i’m cynical about the capabilities of these guys til we see them.
  • Catchers: I’ve got Millas at #24, Pineda at #33. Is Millas even a prospect anymore? He just turned 26, has been in the system for years. He’s never projecting to be anything other than a backup Catcher. Pineda i’m including as eligible by lack of ABs and not looking at service time manipulation. He’s 3 years younger and had really done well in AA a couple years ago as a 21yr old, but took a step back this year. I think Pineda has a chance to still be a “prospect” but can he supplant Riley Adams? Seems doubtful. I hope Pineda rebounds this year and gives the team some options in case we suffer a Catcher injury in the Bigs.
  • Parker at #26: I like this guy and think he should be higher. But scouts seem doubtful that his stuff will play at higher levels. We’ll see now that he’s on the 40-man. I saw him pitch for AA and was impressed. He’s been solid at every level he’s pitched; he just keeps moving up and moving on.
  • Baker at #27: the definition of a guy who has no flashy tools but probably ends up with a decent MLB career as a career utility backup guy. And the way that Garcia looks this spring, it may not even be that far off. If Garcia can’t hit, and continues to be such a defensive liability, the team may cut bait and try someone else.
  • Andrew Alvarez at #28. Our 2023 minor league pitcher of the year ended the year in the AA rotation after cruising in High-A all year. I’m one of the few to even mention the guy; the only other shop to list him is BA at #30. Not even Prospects1500, which spent most of its 40-50 range guys listing 16 yr olds who hit .150 in the DSL after signing for $5 grand didn’t list him.
  • Saenz at #29. Honestly he should be higher. 3.43 ERA in a full season starting in AA. Problem is, he doesn’t light up the scoreboard, so nobody thinks he’s a prospect. But he’s a lefty, like Alvarez, and you don’t have to throw mid-90s to be an effective lefty in the majors.

So, that’s the top 30 with discussions on nearly every guy. We still have 30 to go. I’ll kind of do short comments on random players the rest of the way out so this isn’t 5,000 words.

  • TJ White at #32: I’m not as bullish as Ghost (who had him at #19); i just want to see him rebound.
  • Aldo Ramirez at #34: this guy used to be a top 10 prospect; he should be higher and could jump 20 spots in a season if he can show he’s healthy. Lets hope so; our SP prospect depth is shaky.
  • Cuevas at #36: ok the guy is 22 and spent the whole season in the AA rotation. Even if he wasn’t great, that’s one of the youngest guys in the league. If he had an era in the 3s he may be a near top 10 prospect. Maybe he should be higher.
  • Brzycky at #37: this is as high as I’m willing to go for a reliever. I don’t care how good he is. There’s a couple more relievers on the list, but i’m a follower of the adage that you can find relievers from your failed starters.
  • Infante at #38: hopefully this is the last of our long-line of failed 2nd round draft picks.
  • Schoff at #41 kind of quietly has made his way to AAA as a reliever only guy from the start.
  • Seth Shuman should be higher. But he’s now 26 and he missed all of last year with injury. He has a career minor league ERA of 3.28. He’s just lost so much development time.
  • Jordy Barley seems like he should be higher; he’s the starting SS in AAA at 24 and was a mid 20s prospect a couple years ago. But this year i’m the sole person to list him anywhere.
  • Will Frizzell at #48 may be too high. I think he’s a lingering prospect due to a good season a couple years ago.
  • Andy Acevedo at #49 is here solely because the team gave him $1.3M last year. Same with Solano at #57. These are guys who got a ton of money and hit in the mid .150s last year but who will be kicking around the system for years thanks to their signing bonus “investments.”
  • Suggs at #50 is the sole other catcher on this list. That’s crazy; we have zero catching depth.
  • Lucas Knowles; all he did was worm his way up to AAA as a rubber armed lefty reliever. Lots of value there if he can sling it and get people out. But does this kind of guy play in the majors? I feel like there’s a “minor league type” of arm who every team in High-A and AA loves, who can gets guys out when the starter blows up and keeps teams in games, but never gets any prospect love and has little shot of ever making it.
  • Cronin at #54: man what happened to this guy? On the 40-man, then pitched so badly that he got outrighted and then pitched even worse. Kind of like Evan Lee a couple years ago, who has regressed so badly he’s not even in the top 60.
  • Elian Soto is ranked solely because of who his brother is.
  • Carlos Batista at #58 is the sole hitter from the 2023 IFA who even had something close to a respectable batting line in DSL last year. Doesn’t make him a prospect; it makes him the shiniest egg of a bunch of rotten eggs.
  • Brenner Cox finishes it out at #60. He’s looked overmatched from the moment the team signed him. Probably should have gone to college.

Who did I miss?

  • Prospects1500 listed a whole bunch of 23IFAs in its 40-50 range; none of them are better than the relative journeymen we have in our 50-60 range even.
  • A couple of 2023 upper teen picks Liam Sullivan and Nick Peoples got some prospect mention elsewhere; i wasn’t impressed.
  • Tim Cate is still in the system. Not even in the top 60.
  • Brandon Boissiere; i used to like this guy, but he’s struggling to hold on to a job.
  • Holden Powell: man, hard to believe he was a 3rd rounder.

Phew. that was a lot. Thanks for reading and this probably concludes prospect season. I’ll recap Fangraphs whenever it comes out because I can’t help myself, but time to move forward.

Written by Todd Boss

March 11th, 2024 at 9:06 am

Posted in Prospects

MLB Pipeline Nats top 30 for 2024 review

26 comments

Wood's blast was the highlight of the night for Harrisburg. Photo via milb
Wood has been tearing up spring training; could he actually make the team? Photo via milb.com

The last of the major pundits (that i’m waiting for, ahem Fangraphs) has dropped their Nats prospect rankings for the new season. Here’s a review of the MLBPipeline Nats top 30, done by MLB’s scouting pundits Jim Callis, Jonathan Mayo, and Sam Dykstra.

Here’s a list of all the ranking lists i’m aware of and/or have reviewed this spring so far, in order of their release (and if I reviewed them, a link to that recap):

Lastly, here’s a link to my Nationals Prospect Tracking XLS, which has all the above ranks, along with more than 230 historical rankings dating back to the very first Baseball America ranking in January of 2005 for the franchise just after moving here.

On with the review of MLB Pipeline. Here’s their top 30 in tabular format:

MLB rankLast NameFirst NamePosition
1CrewsDylanOF (CF)
2WoodJamesOF (Corner)
3HouseBradySS/3B
4CavalliCadeRHP (Starter)
5MoralesYohandy3B
6GreenElijahOF (CF)
7LileDaylenOF (CF)
8Hassell IIIRobertOF (CF)
9VaqueroCristianOF (CF)
10SusanaJarlinRHP (Starter)
11SykoraTravisRHP (Starter)
12HerzDJLHP (Starter)
13HurtadoVictorOF
14BennettJakeLHP (Starter)
15RutledgeJacksonRHP (Starter)
16LipscombTrey3B
17PinckneyAndrewOF (Corner)
18YoungJacobOF (CF)
19NunezNasimSS
20MillasDrewC
21BrzykcyZachRHP (Reliever)
22ParkerMitchellLHP (Starter)
23MadeKevinSS
24FelizAngel3B/SS
25HenryColeRHP (Starter)
26PinedaIsraelC
27BakerDarren2B
28De La RosaJeremyOF (Corner)
29SaenzDustinLHP (Starter)
30WhiteT.J.OF (Corner)

And here’s some thoughts.

  • This is probably the list that I most agree with so far. When I put this top 30 end to end against my list (which will be forthcoming soon) it’s pretty amazing how well it lines up.
  • Same Top 4 as nearly everyone else.
  • Morales seems to be settling in as the near consensus #5 prospect in the system.
  • I can’t argue with the set of players ranked 6th to 9th, all of whom are Center fielders. Green above Lile and Hassell kind of ignores his 2023 struggles a bit; I have him below Lile/Hassell. Vaquero at #9 seems pretty consistent; nearly every other pundit has him in the 7-9 range.
  • Comment on Lile: man I hope he’s ok and doesn’t have any long term damage.
  • Susana and Sykora 10-11: so now we’re starting to see a bit of the methodology that MLBPipeline adheres to; they’re a little heavy on ceiling and potential. This is probably why Green is higher than his actual on-field performance earns him right now. I like Susana and Sykora, but they’re both 19yrs old with mostly big fastballs and shiny scores on a scouting report.
  • The two 2024 IFAs come in: Hurtado at #13 and Feliz at #24. I think Hurtado is a bit high at 13, but a couple others had him in that range, so it isn’t egregious.
  • I’m a little higher on Young and Nunez than they are, but again its within the mid-teen range and splitting hairs to criticize that they’re ranked 18 and 19 instead of 13 and 14.
  • Brzycky at #21? Don’t get that one. An injured reliever ahead of a 40-man starter in Parker?
  • Kevin Made at #23 shows the drastic variations of opinion: they’re right in line with what BA said, but echelons below what guys like Law and McDaniel said.
  • Henry at #25 is pretty much low man amongst the professional pundits. Ghost had him at #30 for reasons he explained post review. They are not bullish on his return from TOS.
  • Can’t really complain about anyone in the 25-30 range.
  • TJ White is their biggest faller from last year, as noted in the writeup.

biggest misses?

  • Andry Lara; outside top 30. I’m not sure i agree with that, even with as much as I’ve criticized his placement.
  • Quintana out of top 30; not egregious, just noting that most shops have him in the 19-20 range.

Written by Todd Boss

March 4th, 2024 at 11:49 am

Posted in Prospects

Keith Law’s top 20 for the Nats

4 comments

Everyone loves Lile. photo via Masn

I’m a big Keith Law fan, always have been. But sometimes he zigs when others zag, and I feel like this year’s Nats list is in that category. HIs methodology is not quite as big a focus on the “ceiling” of a prospect, but it creeps in. He really discounts DSL Guys until they show up domestically, and if someone’s ceiling is middle infielder/4th outfielder/middle reliever … they’re not a prospect in his eyes.

Law is the 2nd to last “major pundit” to drop his list. Once the MLBpipeline guys (Callis & Mayo et al) drop their updated ranks, I’ll post my list and declare victory for the season.

Without further ado, here’s Law’s top 20 list, behind a paywall at the Athletic but I subscribe and I find it to be the best value for the money on the internet.

Law RankLast NameFirst NamePosition
1CrewsDylanOF (CF)
2WoodJamesOF (Corner)
3HouseBradySS/3B
4CavalliCadeRHP (Starter)
5LileDaylenOF (CF)
6MoralesYohandy3B
7VaqueroCristianOF (CF)
8Hassell IIIRobertOF (CF)
9MadeKevinSS
10SykoraTravisRHP (Starter)
11SusanaJarlinRHP (Starter)
12GreenElijahOF (CF)
13BennettJakeLHP (Starter)
15HenryColeRHP (Starter)
15RutledgeJacksonRHP (Starter)
16HerzDJLHP (Starter)
17YoungJacobOF (CF)
18PinckneyAndrewOF (Corner)
19QuintanaRoismarOF (CF)
20SaenzDustinLHP (Starter)
HMYoungLukeRHP (Starter)
HMLaraAndryRHP (Starter)
HMInfanteSamuelSS
HMBrownMarcusSS/2B

Ok, lets go through it.

  • Same top 4 as practically everyone else. Note: we’ve been discussing in the comments what really makes a rookie and have gone through some interesting scenarios. For me. service time manipulation or roster moves that burn their clock but don’t give ABs or IPs don’t count. So i’ll be including specifically Cade Cavalli and Israel Pineda in my list, and even though a commenter pointed out there’s now others technically eligible i’m not sure who else is worth mentioning.
  • Lile at #5. As in, the next big guy in our entire system after the top 4 guys who all seem to be near-guarantees. McDaniel, Law, and the 1500 guys all have Lile in the 5-6 range. After much discussion and further analysis, i’m coming around to the opinion that LIle and Hassell are basically the same. I now have them side-by-side in my rankings, having elevated LIle a number of spots from where I started. Do I think Lile is the 5th best prospect in the system? Well, no but he’s close, and having him #5 and Morales #6 versus the other way around is splitting hairs.
  • Law is absolute high-man on Kevin Made, having him all the way at #9. By way of comparison, BA had him at #24, in the range of guys who are “lucky if they get to AA.” In his writeup, Law thinks Made is a 12-15 homer guy in the majors who could stick at short and be a regular. Wow. Yeah that is a top 10 guy. I guess we’re all forgetting just how young he has been (20 in highA).
  • Sykora to #10, very high on both him and Susana at #11. All Ceiling. It’s easy to dream on 18yr old live arms. After all our (lack of) success with these guys, its tough to get excited. I guess I have to remind myself that Sykora got a 1st round bonus, and If we had draftee him in the 1st round like we did Giolito … we’d be much higher on him.
  • He has Green all the way down to #12. Law’s take on this ranking was interesting: he says Green is perhaps the best example in all of the minors of a player who is too good for complex ball, but not yet ready for LowA, and is being developmentally crushed by the loss of Short-A. I agree. It really amazes me that the sport in general fails to see the value of Short-A ball, or even another 10 rounds of a draft to fill that team. Just look at the ridiculous number of arms that poured into our Low-A team last year; I have 12 guys listed as “Starters” and another 9 listed as “Long Relievers.” 12 starters! There’s no where near enough innings to go around to try to develop 12 guys at starters. Gee, wouldn’t it be great if there was another low-A level league where you could send the lesser 6 of those starters so they could pitch every five days? So dumb.
  • Cole Henry at #15. What piqued my interest in Law’s write up was this simple line: “his stuff was all the way back” after TOS surgery. But he also said that a guy like Henry is too brittle to start, but could be an awesome reliever (97-100 with two 55 pitches). That’s a drop-dead game ender, and hey, if the guy can’t stay healthy then at least we can use him.
  • Quintana at #19: one of the few who rates this guy. BA and McDaniel didn’t even rank him. What do we have with him at this point? He’s only 21 and seems set to go to HighA, but he’s a corner OF limited guy who has to hit for power to earn a promotion … and that’s gonna be hard in Wilmington.
  • Saenz at #20. Yes! Finally someone ranks this guy. He has been completely absent from every prospect ranking this entire spring, even the Prospect 1500 guys who go 50 deep. Why? He’s a 4th round pick, was 24 in AA last year posting a 3.43 era/1.18 whip in 25 games/23 starts. Uh, yeah, sign me up. Those were significantly better numbers than Parker (who is also a lefty), who got a 40-man roster spot out of his performance. Saenz should be going to AAA, doesn’t turn 25 until June … why is he not a prospect? Maybe its smoke and mirrors, with lesser stuff, but he’s solved every level he’s been presented with so far.

Law then mentions four guys as noteworthy, but there’s no way they’re ranked 21-24. Young, Lara, Infante, and Brown. I think it was more notes out of his many visits to see the Nats play in Wilmington, which is right around the corner from where he lives in Delaware.

So, who’d he miss?

  • No mention of our two 2024 IFAs Hurtado or Felix. Not surprising.
  • No Love for Lipscomb, but that’s really splitting hairs if he’s not in the top 20 but is in his top 25.
  • Nothing on Nasim Nunez. Law’s methodology definitely under-rates role players like backup infielders, 4th outfielders, middle relievers, etc.
  • Nothing for De La Rosa, who is as high as #13 on other lists.

Written by Todd Boss

February 18th, 2024 at 8:37 am

ESPN and Kiley McDaniel puts out his weird Nats Prospect list for 2024

27 comments

Cade Cavalli is inexplicably left off the McDaniel list. Photo via Lookout Landing blog

I’ve buried the lede for this analysis in the title, but there’s no other way to say it. Kiley McDaniel has always been more focused on ceiling than floor in his prospect ranks, and that comes out pretty true in his list of 20-some odd Nats prospects for 2024.

We’re still waiting for two other major pundits to drop (MLBPipeline and Fangraphs) and a couple of lesser known ones (Bleacher Report if they do it, Prospects Live, and Prospect Digest) before I reveal my top 50. Also, BA added another 10 to their top 40 list, and they had some real interesting names get tacked on that i’ll mention in my eventual top 50.

Lets get right into it:

McDaniel RankLast NameFirst NamePosition
1CrewsDylanOF (CF)
2WoodJamesOF (Corner)
3HouseBradySS/3B
4GreenElijahOF (CF)
5SusanaJarlinRHP (Starter)
6LileDaylenOF (CF)
7MoralesYohandy3B
8Hassell IIIRobertOF (CF)
9HurtadoVictorOF
10HenryColeRHP (Starter)
11BennettJakeLHP (Starter)
12VaqueroCristianOF (CF)
13De La RosaJeremyOF (Corner)
14MadeKevinSS
15NunezNasimSS
16SykoraTravisRHP (Starter)
17MillasDrewC
18RutledgeJacksonRHP (Starter)
19YoungJacobOF (CF)
20LipscombTrey3B
21PinckneyAndrewOF (Corner)
22HerzDJLHP (Starter)

And some thoughts.

  • Ok, Crews-Wood-House at the top. Like everyone else.
  • Uh, where the hell is Cade Cavalli? McDaniel lists him as a 2023 prominent graduate … um, Kiley, the dude didn’t pitch in 2023. At all. And 60-day DL doesn’t count towards rookie eligibility. This is not a slight omission; it’s also drastically impacted where he ranked the entire Nats system (probably costing them 4-5 spots based on the loss of Cavalli’s future surplus value in his ranking system). It seems odd to make such a major mistake on a prospect who was clearly a top 100 guy a year ago before TJ.
  • Green at #4: told you he’s focused on Ceiling and not actuals. There’s some legitimate concern out there about Green and I’m not sure i’d have him at #4 overtop of the next set of names, but that’s the methodology of McDaniel. By way of comparison, he has Green HIGHER this year than he did last year despite the ridiculous K/9 rates he put up in Low-A. Wow.
  • Susana at #5. I mean, the only way i’d rank Susana #5 is if someone told me he was going to rise two levels this year and keep his ERA under 3.00. What evidence is there based on his performance so far that he’s projecting to be anything but a fire-balling 2-pitch reliever?
  • Lile at #6: I’m on record saying he’s overrated in some rankings already; how can you possibly put Lile above Hassell??
  • New signing Victor Hurtado at #9. Phew. That’s pretty bullish on a 16yr old who has yet to play an inning. I mean, that’s higher th an $4.9M signing Vaquero, who at least has made it to the states and got double the bonus money.
  • Cole Henry at #10. I like Henry, and I want him to be the #2 starter ceiling that he was looking like when he raced up the system. But he’s an orchid. TOS is hard to come back from. I know we just saw reports he was healthy and throwing … i’ll believe it when i see it.
  • De La Rosa at #13. Ridiculous. .240/.324/.361 with 129 Ks in 93 games in High-A, which he was repeating from the previous year as a 22yr old. He’s at least 10 spots too high here. Who would you rather have, right now? 22yr old DLR or 23yr old Pinckney?
  • Kevin Made at #14, also too high. He better be the 2nd coming of Ozzie Smith to rate this high based on how weak his bat is.
  • Rutledge all the way down at #18. That’s below Sykora (who’s yet to throw a pitch) and below Henry (who might be finished as a player). I mean, yeah i get it, he projects as a 5th starter right now and didn’t exactly light things up when he arrived, but he’s also a 1st rounder who rose 3 levels in 2023. Did they forget what made him a 1st rounder?
  • The back end of his list all seems to be pushed down like 6-8 spots lower than I’d have them, but nothing egregious.

Who’s missing?

  • No Angel Feliz, 2024 IFA $1.7M signing. Surprising given how much he likes ceiling.
  • No Armando Cruz, $3.9M signing in 2021. The shine is off of Cruz.
  • No love for Mitchell Parker, who just continues to get results year after year. Maybe one day we’ll be watching Parker sling up lefty pitches like Tom Glavine and we’ll be like, “oh well he doesn’t throw 95 so he’s still not a prospect.”
  • Interestingly, left out Andry Lara. Lara is all about the Ceiling. McDaniel had him ranked #9 last year!
  • TJ White: nowhere to be found after nearly being a top 10 guy last year. Why ding White for his 2023 performance but not Green?
  • Alex Call and Brenner Cox were in the mid teens last year. Not really advocating that they should have been included (Call exhausted his rookie eligibility), just noting that this is the folly of depending entirely on ceiling/future value.

Written by Todd Boss

February 14th, 2024 at 8:39 am

Posted in Prospects

Prospects 1500 top 50 for 2024

28 comments

He’s gonna look good in this uniform and soon. Photo via Crews’ instagram page.

I always look forward to Prospects1500 and their team’s rankings each year, because they go deeper than anyone else. Some places only rank our top 10; that’s not really that hard, especially when the first four are basically the same in every publication and there’s not a ton of argument mostly about the rest of our top 10 right now. Most major shops stop at 30 (then may throw in a few “honorable mentions” or “just misseds”), which is much more difficult. Prospects 1500 go 50 deep. So its great to see who they’re throwing into the 40s. Even if I disagree with them.

Here’s the 2024 Prospects 1500 list:

Prospects1500 RankLast NameFirst NamePosition
1CrewsDylanOF (CF)
2WoodJamesOF (Corner)
3HouseBradySS/3B
4CavalliCadeRHP (Starter)
5MoralesYohandy3B
6LileDaylenOF (CF)
7VaqueroCristianOF (CF)
8GreenElijahOF (CF)
9Hassell IIIRobertOF (CF)
10SusanaJarlinRHP (Starter)
11HerzDJLHP (Starter)
12BennettJakeLHP (Starter)
13SykoraTravisRHP (Starter)
14NunezNasimSS
15HenryColeRHP (Starter)
16PinckneyAndrewOF (Corner)
17RutledgeJacksonRHP (Starter)
18MadeKevinSS
19De La RosaJeremyOF (Corner)
20LipscombTrey3B
21YoungJacobOF (CF)
22WhiteT.J.OF (Corner)
23LaraAndryRHP (Starter)
24ParkerMitchellLHP (Starter)
25CruzArmandoSS
26QuintanaRoismarOF (CF)
27PinedaIsraelC
28BakerDarren2B
29McKenzieJaredOF (CF)
30CroninMattLHP (Reliever)
31LuckhamKyleRHP (Starter)
32FerrerJoseLHP (Reliever)
33RamirezAldoRHP (Starter)
34CoxBrennerOF (CF)
35SchoffTylerRHP (Reliever)
36YoungLukeRHP (Starter)
37MaricutoJermaine1B/C
38AcevedoAndyOF
39InfanteSamuelSS
40NunezElijahOF
41SolanoEdwinSS
42SotoElianOF/SS
43CuevasMichaelRHP (Starter)
44BrownMarcusSS/2B
45TavaresCarlosOF
46AldonisPabloLHP (Starter)
47BatistaCarlosOF
48ObispoJuanOF
49SullivanLiamLHP (?)
50LirianoHectorOF

Now, here’s some commentary.

  • Same 1-4 as everyone else, in the same order. Nothing crazy about having Morales at #5 either.
  • Daylen Lile at #6. That’s too high. Yes, Lile’s numbers fell off when he got to the big stadium in Wilmington, but his profile already means he’s not going to hit for power. He’s 5’11”, 195, a lefty hitting outfielder who BA thinks is going to struggle to stay in CF. Uh, if he’s not in CF, where you can make up for a lack of offense with dazzling defensive skills, then he’s gotta mash to occupy a corner OF spot. He’s listed as a 50 runner and a 50 fielder, and he had 21 SBs in 66 low-A games (but curiously just 2 SBs in 40 High-A games). So, he’s an undersized lefty hitting CF who won’t be ahead of at least 6 other CFs in the system (Crews, Wood, Young, Green, Hassell, Vaquero). Why is he #6? I’m surprised he’s in the top 15. I hope i’m wrong and he turns into Jacoby Ellisbury.
  • They’re low on Hassell, putting him at #9. See, this is problematic to me. Hassell was the #2 prospect entering our system when he got traded, broke his hamate bone after finishing 2022 in AA at the same age where Lile is now. He’s got better tools across the board, can play CF, but didn’t even debut in 2023 until May, so basically you have to caveat a big chunk of his 2023 season at the plate. Yet he’s 9th and Lile is 6th? Doesn’t make sense.
  • Susana at #10, which is in line with other shops but high for me. What’s he done except his 103 on the radar gun? Can’t teach velocity, but so far the risk on this guy seems to outweigh the rewards, and the value of a 9th inning guy with massive walk rats and a 103 mph isn’t that high.
  • Cole Henry at #15. Huge variation on this guy so far: Ghost had him at #30, BA at #23, MLBPIpeline at #18 last December, which seemingly took into account his awful post-TOS surgery 2023 performance. Still, having this guy at #15 laughably puts him ahead of Rutledge, who’s a) healthy, b) has done well in AAA, and c) has made his MLB debut. If Henry had had TJ, that’s one thing. TOS is another, and this is too high.
  • Speaking of, Rutledge at #17 is too low. I’m just not sure why you’d ding a guy like Rutledge after what he did in 2023. If i told you we had a pitcher who missed a year of development and in his age 24 season put up a AA line of 6-1, 3.16 ERA, 1.10 whip with 62/25 k/bb in 68IP you’d be like, wow that’s awesome. Well, that’s what Rutledge did before doing 11 so-so starts in AAA and getting roughed up in the MLB. That’s better than #17 prospect, and there’s no way he should be behind any of the 5 arms immediately above him (Henry, Herz, Sykora, Bennett, or Susana). Remember; the entire point of being a prospect is … what? To get to the major leagues. Rutledge has.
  • Kevin Made at #18. Way too high. We know he’s glove-first, defined by BA as a “double plus defender.” That’s great; he’s also go grade 40 hit and power tools. That’s … that’s not good, Bob. After we acquired him he slashed just .137/.232/.192. I guess someone has to bat 9th. But is his defense good enough to account? I don’t think so, not right now, and he shouldn’t be in the top 20. We no longer live in the 1970s when “good field no hit” short stops were accepted. Today, SSs have to hit.
  • I’m way lower on De La Rosa than they are at #19, but it’s a little splitting hairs when you get to the 20-30 range. At least the Nats didn’t put him on the 40-man this off-season.
  • Young at #21. I get it: prospect ranking is some potential, some actual. Young is entirely actual right now. As in, he ACTUALLY might be our starting CF in 2024. At age 24. So … why would you have him ranked below someone like Andrew Pinckney, who’s a year younger and who basically only got to High-A this year? Is Pinckney more likely to blow up and rise 3 levels like Young did this year? I think, like with Rutledge, you have to balance what they’ve accomplished versus what they could accomplish properly.
  • Pineda comes in at #27 … and they don’t even rank Millas in the top 50. I wonder if that’s a cut and past error, and they actually mean to rank Millas #27 and not rank Pineda. Just after this list came out, Pineda got DFA’d, cleared waivers, and was outrighted to AAA. So he’s still around, likely going back to AA. Either way, I think (as explained in other posts) that Millas is the more polished, MLB-ready catcher right now even if Pineda is 3 years younger.
  • Cronin at #30. Way too high. A reliever who’s already been outrighted off 40-man and who had a 5 ERA in 2023? He’s not even in my top 50. Relievers aren’t prospects unless they’re a-ma-zing.
  • They list Ferrer at #32 despite his exhausting rookie eligibility by the end of 2023. I made the same mistake earlier this off-season until i did some schedule arithmetic.

So, now we’re in the 30-40 range, which really is a deep dive into the marginal prospects in our system. By and large, nearly everyone they have from 33-40 I also have in my list, but I gnerally have them 10 spots lower into the 40s. A couple of comments though:

  • Aldo Ramirez: First time we’ve mentioned his name this off season. Talk about a mess of a career: missed 2020 with Covid, then missed the second half of 2021 with elbow tendinitis. Then he couldn’t answer the bell for 2022 so the sat in XST, and when it came time in June to get assigned to the complex league it turned out he had a blown UCL. TJ surgery, all of 2022 out, not even thinking about playing until mid 2023 … and he never made it onto the field. So out of the last FIVE seasons, he’s pitched for exactly 1.5 of them. When we acquired him (July 2021) he was back half of our top 10; this was a significant prospect. Now? who knows.
  • Tyler Schoff. Ranked #35. I honestly had to look him up to see who the heck he was; he was a 8th/9th inning guy in AA who got promoted at the end of the season to AAA. Wow. #35. Maybe this is for Fantasy players looking to keep an eye on saves in the future. But then where’s Willingham? Willingham actually made it to the majors and had far better minor league numbers than Schoff despite being the same age. Make that make sense.

Now we’re into the 40-50 range, and i’ll just say this: instead of picking domestic players who have actually accomplished something, nearly their entire 40-50 is IFAs who have yet to get out of the DSL. Six of the ten guys ranked 40-50 were 2023 Jan 2nd signings last year, who mostly were awful for an awful 2023 DSL team. So, in that respect, I disagree with most of the guys in the 40-50 range and they’re just ranking them based on signing bonuses.

So, who are they missing?

  • Millas, as noted above
  • Willingham as noted above.
  • They didn’t get either of our 2023 big-money signings Hurtado or Felix … I mean, if you have a guy who got $1.3M who hit .130 then you have to rank a guy who got $2.8M but who hasn’t played yet.
  • They chose to rank a bunch of 17yr old DSL kids instead of domestic players in the high-A to AA range, guys like Frizzell, Saenz, Boissiere, or Shuman.
  • They ranked Relievers Cronin, Ferrer, and Schoff … but not Brzycky, who destroyed minor league hitters in 2022 before getting TJ and missing 2023. Ok.
  • No room in the entire top 50 for our minor league pitcher of the year Andrew Alvarez, but enough room for least three DSL kids who signed for like $5k in Marcuto, Tavarez, and Liriano.
  • Not for nothing, Lucas Knowles may not be the sexiest pitcher out there, but the guy fared really well as a swingman in AA all year.

Phew. I’ll say it again, its tough ranking 50 players. I have my list and the churn in the 40-50 range is real.

Written by Todd Boss

February 5th, 2024 at 12:57 pm

Posted in Prospects

Baseball Prospectus Nats top 10

8 comments

Andrew Pinckney gets love from Baseball Prospectus. Photo via MASN

A quick one today; Baseball Prospectus released both their Nats top prospect list and the Organizational rankings. Now, interestingly, BP’s stuff is normally 100% behind a paywall, and i’m just not inclined to pay for their stuff anymore (unlike the subscriptions I maintain for BA, ESPN+, the Athletic, D1Baseball, etc). I just never see stories that interest me. But, for reasons inexplicable, BP’s link actually revealed their top 10 for the system. I’m not sure how much further they rank, but we get their top 10.

And, their top 10 is super interesting. Here’s a quick cut n paste of BP’s top 10. If anyone out there has the rest .. i’d love to see it.

The Top Ten:

  1. Dylan Crews, OF
  2. James Wood, OF
  3. Brady House, 3B
  4. Cade Cavalli, RHP
  5. Yohandy Morales, 3B
  6. Jarlin Susana, RHP
  7. Travis Sykora, RHP
  8. DJ Herz, LHP
  9. Andrew Pinckney, OF
  10. Robert Hassell III, OF

Here’s some quick commentary. Clearly BP likes young arms.

  • Same 1-4 as basically everyone else.
  • Morales is generally settling in as #5 on a lot of lists now. That’s great news for a 2023 draftee, and it’ll be interesting to see what the team does with him positionally since House is pretty entrenched at 3B. The guy is 6’4″ 250lbs. Phew, that’s a 1B for sure. No chance he’s moving to a corner OF spot at 250lbs.
  • Susana at #6. Easily the highest we’ve seen so far for Susana. Ok, so why is he so high? well its easy: He’s 6’6″ and can hit 103 and he’s still 19 (turns 20 in March). Aggregate 2023 numbers: 1-6, 5.14 ERA, 1.52 whip. 17 starts but only 63IP; he generally went 4 innings a stint. Was fantastic in June, then got shelled in July and Aug. He’s ranked this high b/c you can’t teach 103mph, plain and simple.
  • Sykora at #7. BP again the high rank on this guy. Electric fastball, secondary pitches and control needs work. Typical for a prep draftee. This is a ranking entirely driven by ceiling, but so much can go wrong with a guy like Sykora its hard for me to put him this high.
  • Herz at #8. Nobody else has him even in the top 15. He certainly pitched well enough in 2024. Interestingly, BA lists his changeup as a 65, easily his best pitch. Can’t be effective with a change like that unless you’re a starter, and unless you can command the fastball though, two issues he has right now.
  • Pinckney at #9, again easily high ranking for this guy. He was a below-slot senior draftee who blew through the lower minors as a 22yr old (now 23). Is he really our 9th best prospect?? A senior draftee who was probably a 6th round projection six months ago is a higher ranked prospect than an upper 1st round talent like Green who has two 70-grade tools? Or an IFA who got nearly $5M in 2022 and who is already stateside in Vaquero?
  • Hassell dumped down to 10, in a “what have you done for me lately” move.

Well, I guess BP really likes young power arms and old college bats.

Written by Todd Boss

January 31st, 2024 at 2:56 pm

Posted in Prospects

TalkNats and Steve Ghost Mears Top 30 prospects

3 comments

I don’t normally include Nats blogger prospect list analysis since, well, lets be honest we’re bloggers, not nationally-connected scouting specialists who spend months as their full time job calling scouting directors and texting MLB GMs to get their intel. Plus, i’m doing this as a fan and I hate to criticize another fan’s work. But when I saw respected long-time nats blogger Stephen “Ghost” Mears post a top 30 … and knowing how much I like top 30 prospect lists, I couldn’t help myself, and have included his list here along with the big boys.

By including this list, I promise to generate my own list for the system as well. Fair is fair. I’ve got a preliminary top 50 ranking right now for our system, which I’ll continue to tweak now that the BA scouting reports are updated.

Here’s the pre-2024 list of prospect ranks that have been published so far.

  • BA’s pre-read top 10, announced 11/6/23 (link now defaults to top 30 released today; no changes from the top 10 in Nov to now, a slight indictment perhaps of the BA process)
  • Prospects361 top 10, released 11/24/23
  • MLBPipeline top 30, post rule5/pre off-season analysis released 12/7/23. Note, the MLBPipeline link always defaults to the current, but i retain the rankings at the time of the capture into an XLS
  • Baseball America 2024 top 30 1/24/24:

Here’s Ghost’s list:

TalkNats/Ghost RankFull Name w/ milb linklastfirstpos
1Crews, DylanCrewsDylanOF (CF)
2Wood, JamesWoodJamesOF (Corner)
3House, BradyHouseBradySS/3B
4Cavalli, CadeCavalliCadeRHP (Starter)
5Hassell III, RobertHassell IIIRobertOF (CF)
6Morales, YohandyMoralesYohandy3B
7Lile, DaylenLileDaylenOF (CF)
8Vaquero, Cristhian#VaqueroCristianOF (CF)
9Bennett, Jake*BennettJakeLHP (Starter)
10Young, JacobYoungJacobOF (CF)
11Green, ElijahGreenElijahOF (CF)
12Sykora, Travis SykoraTravisRHP (Starter)
13Susana, JarlinSusanaJarlinRHP (Starter)
14Rutledge, JacksonRutledgeJacksonRHP (Starter)
15Lipscomb, TreyLipscombTrey3B
16Herz, DJ*HerzDJLHP (Starter)
17Hurtado, VictorHurtadoVictorOF
18Millas, Drew#MillasDrewC
19White, T.J.#WhiteT.J.OF (Corner)
20Pinckney, AndrewPinckneyAndrewOF (Corner)
21Quintana, RoismarQuintanaRoismarOF (CF)
22Feliz, AngelFelizAngel3B/SS
23De La Rosa, Jeremy*De La RosaJeremyOF (Corner)
24Nunez, Nasim#NunezNasimSS
25Lara, AndryLaraAndryRHP (Starter)
26Baker, DarrenBakerDarren2B
27Parker, Mitchell*ParkerMitchellLHP (Starter)
28Cruz, ArmandoCruzArmandoSS
29Brzykcy, ZachBrzykcyZachRHP (Reliever)
30Henry, ColeHenryColeRHP (Starter)

And here’s some commentary.

  • Same 1-4 as most shops. Most pundits call our system “top heavy” which keeps us from being ranked higher in the overall organization ranks. Fair enough. If Henry had progressed as expected and a couple of these uber expensive IFAs recently were closer to Juan Soto than … well some guy named Juan who isn’t a prospect, we’d be higher ranked. And closer to contention.
  • Despite Hassell’s 2023 struggles, Ghost has him at #5. Lets hope he rebounds in 2024. Remember, he was our clear #2 prospect in most major publications last spring.
  • He remains a little high on Bennett at #9 despite no 2024. The only thing i’m worried about with Bennett (well, besides the fact that he had his arm cut wide open in August or whenever) is that he really didn’t do well in high-A once he got there. A 2nd round major conference draftee should have STARTED in High-A last year. Instead he toyed with kids in Low-A for nearly two months before going to Wilmington and, well frankly, getting hit. 6 starts, 5.57 ERA, 1.62 whip before he blew the UCL. How many of those starts were with a strained UCL? Who knows. He’ll turn 24 before he throws another pitch, will be back in Wilmington, and will be behind schedule. Is that a top 10 prospect? Not for me. Too much risk.
  • Jacob Young #10. Ok. so, prospect lists are a combination of floor and ceiling. What is Young’s floor? Well, before 2023 he had no real floor. So now we know, he’s a gritty Lenny Dykstra undersized CF spark plug who can make sh*t happen. But what’s his ceiling? He got 4 whole games in AAA before getting called up to cover for a thin OF at the MLB level and he didn’t do half bad. Better numbers than Alex frigging Call, that’s for sure. Young had 13 SBs in 33 games; that’s Vinny Coleman SB rates. But the MLB OF has too many guys right now; Robles kind of has to play CF for the arb salary he’s getting, Garrett earned the corner OF spot, and of course so did Thomas. You don’t want Young riding the pine in the majors, so he’ll be in AAA again to start 2024. What’s his ceiling? Can he hit .290 with mid .350 OBP and 50 SBs in the majors? If that’s the case, then heck yeah he’s #10 prospect, maybe higher.
  • Green down to #11. That’s too low for a guy with three tools in the 60s and a team admitting they’re futzing with his swing. Talking about Ceiling; he has as much ceiling as Crews and Wood by BA scouting reports, and he has a power/speed combo that’s Ronald Acuna-esque. But his hit tool grade right now is like that of a high schooler.
  • Ghost has our new IFAs at #17 and #22. Fair enough. He has our new Rule5 guy at #24, right inline with BA. Fine by me; i’m almost to the point of ignoring prospects until they get to the domestic leagues. Quick; can anyone tell me the names of our two 7-figure IFA signings last January? Or how they performed last summer in the DSL? Yeah, I didn’t think so (by the way, its Andy Acevedo and Edwin Solano, both signed for $1.3M. DSL 2023 lines respectively: .170/.299/.248 and .117/.224/.133. that’s right: Solano hit .117; 15 for 128 with exactly two extra base hits all season. That was money well spent.
  • Drew Millas at #18 but Pineda out of the top 30. Here’s a quick comparison of our two other 40-man catchers right now. Millas 26, switch hitter, spent around 2/3rds of last year in AAA, solid offensive numbers, good speed, average defender, 28% CS rate. Pineda is 23, was in AAA at the end of 2022 but was sent back to high-A in 2023 and struggled at the plate. Based on pure stats, Millas is better. But he’s also got 3 years on Pineda and that really discounts Pineda’s 2022, which is mostly why BA has Pineda higher than Millas right now. Right before publishing, Pineda got DFA’d off the 40-man and i’ll bet someone picks him up, so it may not matter, but its certainly a weird choice to cut to make room for Joey Gallo when they have waiver wire RHP relievers who had ERAs in the 5s and 6s last year who they could have cut instead.
  • TJ White at #19. Why?? .170/.277/.279 in 2023 with no position and missed half the year. That’s not a recipe for success.
  • Andry Lara at #25, after BA didn’t rank him at all. Ok, so on the bright side his whip went down in High A, and he’s still only 21, and we know he finished strong in 2023. His aggregate numbers for his career still suck.
  • Cole Henry at #30. This is a ranking that says, “well, I don’t think he’s ever going to be healthy again, but on the off-chance he is, he’s still ranked.”

Unmentioned in the top 30: Acevedo, Made, and Pineda as mentioned. Nothing egregious.

All in all, not a bad list. I agree with big chunks of the rankings of players hoenstly.

Written by Todd Boss

January 29th, 2024 at 9:12 am

Posted in Prospects